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Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Trump says he wouldn’t be a dictator ‘except for Day One’ - The Washington Post

Trump says he wouldn’t be a dictator ‘except for Day One’

"When asked during a Fox News town hall if he would seek retribution upon returning to office, the former president largely sidestepped the question

Since leaving the White House in 2021, Donald Trump has said he would approach a second term as president with an expansive view of executive branch authority. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Former president Donald Trump said Tuesday that he would not be a dictator upon returning to office “except for Day One,” as he largely deflected questions at a televised town hall event about whether he would abuse his powers to seek retribution against his political adversaries.

Fox News host Sean Hannity pressed Trump on two occasions during the event in Davenport, Iowa, on whether he would promise not to abuse his powers upon returning to the White House. In both occasions, Trump circumvented the question and did not outright deny the possibility.

“Under no circumstances — you are promising America tonight — you would never abuse power as retribution against anybody?” Hannity asked Trump during the latter exchange.

“Except for Day One,” Trump quickly replied, prompting someone in the audience to yell out: “Yeah!”

“He’s going crazy!” Trump said as Hannity looked perplexed.

“Except for Day One. Meaning?” Hannity asked.

“I want to close the border, and I want to drill, drill, drill,” Trump said as the crowd cheered.

“That’s not retribution,” Hannity responded.

“We love this guy,” Trump said of Hannity. “He says: ‘You’re not gonna be a dictator, are ya?’ I say: ‘No, no, no — other than Day One.’”

Trump then doubled down on his promise to close the U.S.-Mexico border and expand oil drilling on his first day, adding: “After that, I’m not a dictator.”

“That sounds to me like you’re going back to the policies when you were president,” Hannity said before cutting to commercial.

The exchange was prefaced by the Fox News host telling Trump that the media was “attacking” him for his authoritarian rhetoric and tendencies.

Later Tuesday, the Biden campaign responded to Trump’s “dictator” remarks by posting video of the exchange.

“Donald Trump has been telling us exactly what he will do if he’s reelected and tonight he said he will be a dictator on day one,” Biden campaign manager Julie Chavez Rodriguez said in a statement. “Americans should believe him.”

Earlier in Tuesday’s town hall, Hannity asked Trump to clearly say if he has “any plans whatsoever if reelected president to abuse power, to break the law, to use the government to go after people?”

“You mean, like they’re using right now?” Trump said, repeating his claim that President Biden has weaponized the Justice Department against him. He then began complaining about the indictments and criminal charges he faces, calling them “made up.”

“I often say Al Capone, he was one of the greatest of all time — if you like criminals,” Trump said. “And he got indicted once. I got indicted four times.”

Trump is being prosecuted in two federal cases by special counsel Jack Smith, one related to his retention of classified records, the other on charges he conspired in late 2020 and early 2021 to obstruct Joe Biden’s electoral victory. Trump also faces criminal charges in Georgia related to efforts to reverse the election results there and in a case in New York stemming from hush money payments.

Trump on several occasions has appeared to suggest he would use the White House to target his adversaries.

In June, for example, after he was arraigned in Florida, Trump said that, if elected next year, he will “appoint a real special prosecutor to go after the most corrupt president in the history of the United States of America, Joe Biden, and the entire Biden crime family.”

And, in October, Trump urged people to “go after” Letitia James (D), the New York state attorney general who filed a civil suit against him alleging business fraud."

Trump says he wouldn’t be a dictator ‘except for Day One’ - The Washington Post

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